Relaxation is essential for anyone who’s interested in managing stress. And while relaxation enhances peace of mind, it also decreases the wear and tear on our minds and bodies from the challenges and hassles of every day life.
Whether your stress is spiraling out of control or you’ve already got it tamed—everyone can benefit from using relaxation techniques. Unfortunately, relaxation oftentimes takes a back seat in life’s busy-ness.
Most health professionals—alternative, complementary, traditional, and integrative—encourage their clients to use relaxation techniques.
A relaxation technique is something that refocuses your attention to a calm awareness. It doesn’t matter which relaxation method you choose, what matters is that you engage in the practice regularly so that you can reap the many benefits:
– Slowing your heart rate
– Lowering blood pressure
– Slowing your breathing rate
– Increasing blood flow to major muscles
– Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
– Improving concentration
– Reducing anger and frustration
– Boosting confidence to handle problems
There’s a wide brushstroke of relaxation techniques:
In your mind’s eye you might imagine a peaceful place and then focus on controlled, relaxing breathing, slowing your heart rate. Use as many senses as you can. For example, if you imagine yourself at the ocean, think about the smell of salt water, the sound of crashing waves, and the warmth of the sun.
Another method is to start by tensing and relaxing the muscles in your toes and progressively working your way up to your neck and head. Tense your muscles for at least five seconds and then relax for 30 seconds, and repeat.
Other relaxation techniques include, yoga, tai chi, listening to music, exercise, meditation, and self-hypnosis.
The moment you feel stress symptoms sneaking up on you, make a conscious effort to practice a relaxation technique. If you nip it in the bud, it can prevent stress from spiraling out of control.
What was the most recent relaxation technique you used?
Yes, I’ve actually done presentations in these shoes
Did you hear the one about?…
The focus on the benefits of laughter began in earnest with Norman Cousins’ memoir, Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient. Norman who’d been diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, a painful spine condition, discovered that a regimen of comedy films like Marx Brothers and episodes of Candid Camera made him feel better. He said that 10 minutes of laughter allowed him 2 hours of pain-free sleep.
Scientists attribute the benefits of laughter primarily to its ability to combat the physical and emotional characteristics of chronic stress, which have been shown to suppress the body’s immunity.
The Health Benefits of Laughter Laughter reduces stress by increasing the body’s secretion of growth hormone, which, in turn, has a positive effect on immunity. Increased stress is associated with decreased immune system response.
Laughter decreases the release of adrenaline and cortisol, two of the worst culprits in weakening the immune system. Studies suggest that similar to exercise, laughter releases endorphins that the body uses to fight pain and depression.
Len, Peter and Laurie Laughing
Research done at the University of Maryland Medical Center shows that “Laughter is similar to exercise in that it decreases blood pressure, increases muscle flexion, improves the overall performance of the heart’s muscular functions, and possibly wards off heart disease.”
Roberta Gold, recreation and humor therapist based in California said, “The physiological processes the body undergoes during laughter are relaxing. Your circulatory system works better, you oxygenate your blood better, and you feel better afterward, physiologically and emotionally. The benefits of comedy aren’t just physical. While laughter improves the body’s physiological processes, a sense of humor is paramount to mental health. Laughter stimulates positive emotions and encourages a more positive outlook.”
Research at the University of North Carolina determined that a positive mental state—such as one brought on by humor—increases open-mindedness, creativity, and the capacity to adapt to change.
Experts also speculate that a sense of humor goes hand-in-hand with higher levels of “emotional intelligence” which determines a person’s ability to handle their feelings and understand the emotional states of others.
Karen and Peter Cracking Up!
Humor has also been linked to improved test scores. In a study at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, researchers divided students in a graduate biostatistics class into 2 groups. They administered identical exams to each group, except that one set of tests had humorous instructions. Students who received the amusing exam scored significantly higher than those with the ordinary directions.
Laughter decreases blood pressure, normalizes heart rate, and increases appetite. To top it off, it’s a great workout that helps the lungs breathe better and keeps muscles in the diaphragm, abdomen, respiratory tract, face, legs, and back healthy.
According to a study released by the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2000 meeting, laughter and an active sense of humor may also help to prevent heart and artery disease.
The University of Maryland Medical Center studied the effects on blood vessels when people were shown either comedies or dramas. After viewing, the blood vessels of the group who watched the comedies behaved normally, expanding and contracting easily. However, the blood vessels in people who watched the dramas tended to tense up, restricting blood flow.
One study of people with diabetes looked at the effects of laughter on blood sugar levels. After eating, the group attended an intentionally tedious lecture. The next day, the group ate the same meal and then watched a comedy. After the comedy, the group had lower blood sugar levels than they did after the lecture.
Laurie & Len know how to have a fun time!
How does it work?
Scientists speculate that humor stimulates the brain’s reward center in the same ways as SEX and CHOCOLATE. In turn, this reward center secretes 2 hormones into the brain: dopamine and serotonin. Also known as happiness molecules, these are anti-stress chemicals associated with the feeling of happiness. As we grow older, the production of these chemicals in the body decreases, so laughing becomes all the more important with increasing age.
As a Holistic Health Practitioner, I can share this fact with certainty: of the 206 bones in the human body, the most important one is the funny bone. Laughter is indeed the best medicine!
When was the last time you enjoyed side-splitting laughter?
You’ve seen them. Those things that look like cherry tomatoes or large berries flirting with you from between the leaves on your rose bushes. Those are rose hips. They form after the rose bloom has died. They’re typically red or orange, but depending on the type of rose bushes you have, they can also be purplish to black in color.
Providing almost 20-times the amount of vitamin C as oranges, rose hips are an incredible source of vitamin C. In addition to their anti-inflammatory properties, they also help to protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease.
You can use them fresh off the vine, dried, or preserved. They can be used in apple sauce, soups, stews, syrups, puddings, jelly/jam, bread, and pie. My favorite way is to use them is to make rose hip tea. Regardless of how you use them, you’ll need to prepare them first.
Place the hips on a clean surface to dry. When the skin begins to look slightly shriveled it’s time to split the hips in half and remove all the seeds and tiny hairs in the center. After the seeds and hairs are removed, let the hips dry completely. Don’t wait to remove the seeds until the hips are completely dry because it’s harder to de-seed them.
If they’re not going to be used within the week, store the prepared hips in sealed plastic bags and freeze them. If you’re going to use them in the next few days, simply place them in the refrigerator. Somewhat like dried cranberries, they can be eaten as a healthy snack anytime.
Boil the dried and crushed rise hips for about 10 minutes (about 2 tablespoons of berries per pint of water). If the mint in your garden took over like ours did this year, you can add a crushed mint leaf (fresh or dried). Depending on your geographic location, you may even be fortunate enough add a few hibiscus flower petals as well.
If you’re going to add honey, make sure it’s locally grown – this will help to combat allergies.
Where there's a will, there's a way, by Laurie Buchanan
Have you ever been told:
– You couldn’t lose the weight
– You couldn’t run the marathon
– You couldn’t quit smoking
– You wouldn’t amount to anything
– You couldn’t have a baby
– Your head is a receptacle for silly ideas
– You couldn’t get a business loan because you wouldn’t make a go of it
– You couldn’t write a book, and if you did, you couldn’t get it published
– You wouldn’t make a good parent
– You wouldn’t live more than 5-months because you have cancer taking over your body, and you responded (like my friend, Ted) with a beautiful, robust, health-filled life!
What have you been told you couldn’t, or wouldn’t – but you did anyway?
For those of you who are just joining us, welcome to the University of Life. In the previous “classes” we laid the groundwork for this course—The Color of Wellness, and looked at the therapeutic properties of the colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and indigo. Today’s palette features the color Violet.
Violet is associated with self-knowledge, divine connection, and spiritual wellness. It enhances creativity, wisdom, and inspiration. It’s the color of royalty. Think of juicy plum, purple grapes, the velvet petals of an African violet, or the rich color of eggplant. When was the last time you picked turnips fresh from the earth? Have you ever seen a spiny purple sea urchin on the ocean floor while snorkeling, or been waved at by an iris dancing in the breeze?
The positive properties of violet are expressed as inspiration, dignity, creativity, nobility, spiritual awareness, altruism, independence, and personable.
The negative properties of violet are described as fanatical, perfectionist, self-doubting, self-destructive, and alienated.
The healing properties of violet are cleansing and antiseptic and can address physical symptoms such as epilepsy, neuralgia, multiple sclerosis, and negative states of mind that include neurosis, despair, loss of faith, and lack of self-respect. Violet can also be used to suppress the appetite.
When you need a boost in the areas of divine connection and self-knowledge, indulge yourself with this color. The frequency of violet refreshes the crown chakra—the gateway to our spiritual nature. This energetic center is where we consent to higher guidance for personal transformation.
The energy of violet helps to assimilate our day-to-day experiences into wisdom, waiting at the ready for translation into enlightenment. Violet encourages a peaceful environment and relieves tension. It promotes inner strength, wisdom, and kindness. Violet helps us to change negatives into positives and brings about increased feelings of spiritual connection. Because of its calming properties, violet is an excellent choice to use during meditation.
Are you drawn to pure violet? It emits the clarity of blue and the warmth of red. It speaks of grandeur and reverence. Or maybe you enjoy the lighter airy shades that are elusive and intriguing; while the deeper purple tones are shadowy and peaceful, inviting deep relaxation and meditation.
What we do with our physical environment—our personal space—speaks to our heart and helps us to flourish. Buy a piece of violet clothing. Add a splash of violet to your décor with flowers, pillows, a candle or a throw. Enhance your sacred space with a violet or purple zafu cushion to augment your meditation practice. Or take advantage of the healing frequency of violet or purple crystals such as amethyst, sugilite, or lepidolite.
A special thank you to Joseph’s Market for allowing me to take photographs in their produce department and to Countryside Nursery for allowing me to take photographs in their gardens.
For those of you who are just joining us, welcome to the University of Life. In the previous “classes” we laid the groundwork for this course—The Color of Wellness, and looked at the therapeutic properties of the colors red, orange, yellow, green and blue. Today’s palette features the color Indigo.Indigo is associated with self-reflection, intuition, and intellectual wellness. It enhances imagination, and understanding. Indigo is a combination of deep blue and violet and holds the attributes of both these colors. It’s the color of ripe blueberries. Think of a deep blue midnight sky, the plumage of male indigo buntings in the summer, or a bottomless mountain lake.
The positive properties of indigo are expressed as visionary, wise, inspired, deep, intuitive, empathetic, broadminded, and sensible perspective.
The negative properties of indigo are described as fearful, arrogant, deluded, isolated, and over idealistic.
The healing properties of indigo are sedative and can address physical symptoms such as hearing, sight, sinus issues, nerves, insomnia, and negative states of mind that include paranoia, over-sensitivity, obsession, and hysteria.
When you need a boost in the areas of intuition and self-reflection, indulge yourself with this color. The frequency of indigo stimulates the brow chakra; also known as the third-eye center. It enhances our sense of knowing and helps us to better understand the big picture; to see clearly.
Are you drawn to pure indigo? It calls to mind the emotions of the sea; promoting responsibility and trust in personal intuition. Or do you prefer the noble shaded tones that exude deep thought, contemplation, inner calm and balance? The frequency of indigo enhances our ability to see things from a higher viewpoint rather than from ego, personal satisfaction or material comfort.
What we do with our physical environment—our personal space—speaks to our heart and helps us to flourish. Buy a piece of indigo clothing. Add a splash of indigo to your décor with flowers, pillows, a candle or a throw. Set the stage for nighttime dreams by painting the ceiling in your bedroom indigo. Or take advantage of the healing frequency of indigo crystals such as lapis lazuli, sodalite, or sapphire.
A special thank you to Joseph’s Marketfor allowing me to take photographs in their produce department.
For those of you who are just joining us, welcome to the University of Life. In the previous “classes” we laid the groundwork for this course—The Color of Wellness, and looked at the therapeutic properties of the colors red, orange, yellow, and green. Today’s palette features the color Blue.
Blue is associated with self-expression, creativity, and environmental wellness. It enhances knowledge, relaxation, and health. It’s the color of a cloudless summer sky. Think of your favorite faded denim jacket, robin’s eggs in a nest, an exquisite piece of turquoise, or the inviting water of a swimming pool on a hot day.
The positive properties of blue are expressed as peaceful, calming, tactful, sincere, trustworthy, fluent, introspective, and responsible.
The negative properties of blue are described as tongue-tied, cold, withdrawn, manipulative, and disloyal.
The healing properties of blue are cooling and protective and can address physical symptoms such as high blood pressure, migraine, fever, cuts, stings/burns, and negatives states of mind such as timidity, fatigue, distrust, indecision, fear of speaking up, and confrontation. Blue decreases respiration and is ideal for sleep and over-activity.
When you need a boost in the areas of creativity and self-expression, indulge yourself with this color. The frequency of blue resonates with the throat chakra. It creates a calm throat center from which to speak our truth. Blue stimulates calm, open, and clear communication, ingredients that are vital to working with others peacefully.
Are you drawn to clear blue? That’s a cool color that calms. Or maybe you enjoy the muted hues that recall a spring sky after the rain; while the shaded tones exude comfort and rest.
What we do with our physical environment—our personal space—speaks to our heart and helps us to flourish. Buy a piece of blue clothing. Add a splash of blue to your décor with flowers, pillows, a candle or a throw. Buy blue sheets that will gently encourage you to sleep at night. Or take advantage of the healing frequency of blue crystals such as aquamarine, turquoise, chrysocolla, or blue topaz.
[Lisa Krupp will recognize many of these photos from her home island, Eleuthera, in the Bahamas. Arch Rock was taken on Mackinac Island, and the pendant is one of my favorites, Blue Kyanite and Pearl].
For those of you who are just joining us, welcome to the University of Life. In the previous “classes” we laid the groundwork for this course—The Color of Wellness, and looked at the therapeutic properties of the colors red, orange, and yellow. Today is my 53rd birthday and I worked it out so that the class palette would feature my favorite color, Green.
Green is associated with self-acceptance, love, and emotional wellness. It enhances love, peace, and inner balance. It’s the color of growth. Think of freshly-mowed grass that springs back after a barefoot step, a wedge of lime hugging the rim of a glass, moss-covered rocks in a stream, freshly-snapped sugar peas, or new leaves unfurling as they herald spring.
The positive properties of green are expressed as warm, sympathetic, compassionate, soothing, relaxed, fair-minded, and consistent.
The negative properties of green are described as envious, mean, bitter, inflexible, and jaded.
The healing properties of green are described as calming and soothing, and can address physical symptoms that include headaches, heart, and kidney problems, flu, and negative states of mind such as irritability, spite, fear, of emotional involvement, and claustrophobia.
When you need a boost in the areas of love and self-acceptance, indulge yourself with this color. Its frequency revitalizes the heart chakra, the center energy station in a system of seven. It encourages us to love ourselves just as we are.
Love, the most powerful energy of all, helps us to heal emotional wounds through unconditional acceptance and understanding. It’s here—the place of the heart—where we become a balanced and peaceful being.
What shade of green are you drawn to? Pure green is strongly associated with nature, new beginnings, and a sense of renewal; it’s the most neutral color in the spectrum. While the more muted tones are calm, restful, and soothing. Maybe you prefer the deeper, shaded variants that project trust and order, encouraging contemplation, serenity, and repose.
Regardless of the hue, green reminds us to listen with our hearts and encourages us to fulfill our heart’s desire. Archangel Raphael—Heaven’s Physician—is associated with the color green. It’s no wonder this color is often used in healing circles.
What we do with our physical environment—our personal space—speaks to our heart and helps us to flourish. Buy a piece of green clothing. Add a splash of green to your décor with flowers, pillows, a candle. or a throw. Do you enjoy antiques? Add a few pieces of depression glass or a green seltzer bottle to your collection. Or take advantage of the healing frequency of green crystals such as green aventurine, malachite, green jade, or emerald.
For those of you who are just joining us, welcome to the University of Life. In the previous “classes” we laid the groundwork for this course—The Color of Wellness, and looked at the therapeutic properties of the colors red and orange. Today’s palette features the color Yellow.
Yellow is associated with self-definition, personal power, and social wellness. It enhances awareness, wisdom, and clarity. It’s the color of a shiny rain slicker. Think of the downy feathers on a prothonotary warbler, or the vibrant skin on a lemon or banana. It’s the lively color of daffodil bonnets that herald spring, and the dazzling color of finches at the feeder on an early summer morning. It’s the flamboyant color of bumble bees showing off as they dart from blossom to blossom.
The positive properties of yellow are expressed as motivational, happy, radiant, social, lighthearted, mental activity, clear thinking, rational, and detachment from negative emotions.
The negative properties of yellow are described as critical, argumentative, opinionated, evasive, and restless.
The healing properties of yellow are uplifting and supportive and can address physical symptoms that include intestinal and digestive issues such as constipation, diarrhea and flatulence, water retention, skin problems, all mental processes, and negative states of mind such as depression, low self-esteem, short attention-span, “exam nerves,” and writer’s block. Yellow increases awareness, perception, and understanding. It also stimulates the appetite.
When you need a boost in the areas of personal power and self-definition, indulge yourself with this color. Its frequency resonates with the solar plexus chakra, the wellspring of our power—the hub, the very heart—of our body’s electrical system. It promotes vigor, and improves memory. Yellow energy stirs feelings of well-being, positive thinking, and triggers the outward expression of inner joy.
Closest to sunlight, pure yellow conveys hospitality and promotes deep feelings of well-being. The muted hues make quiet backgrounds for busy lives, while the shaded yellows have a soft, glowing presence which speaks of home, harvest, and abundance.
What we do with our physical environment—our personal space—speaks to our heart and helps us to flourish. Add a dash of yellow to your wardrobe. Wake up your bathroom with a dazzling yellow shower curtain. Cheer up your kitchen with a bright yellow cookie jar or ceramic teapot. Take advantage of the healing frequency of yellow crystals such as citrine, golden tiger eye, or imperial topaz.
A special thank you to Joseph’s Marketfor allowing me to take photographs in their produce department.
For those of you who are just joining us, welcome to the University of Life. In the previous “classes” we laid the groundwork for this course—The Color of Wellness, and looked at the therapeutic properties of the color red. Today’s palette features the color Orange.
Orange is associated self-gratification, pleasure, and occupational wellness. It enhances happiness, independence, and confidence. It’s the color of molten lava. Think of a robin’s feathered breast, a mouth-watering tangerine, the velvet wings of a monarch butterfly, the impish grin of a jack-o-lantern glowing on Halloween, or the life vest you wore in the boat at summer camp. Remember the taste of Orange Crush as the bubbles hit the back of your throat?
The positive properties of orange are expressed as joyful, enthusiastic, spontaneous, optimistic, sporting, good-humored, gregarious, and sensual.
The negative properties of orange are described as over-indulgent, dependent, free-loading, deceptive, and superficial.
The healing properties of orange are warming and energizing and can address physical symptoms such as low vitality, poor appetite, indigestion, cramps/strained muscles, joint pains, and negative states of mind such as listlessness, boredom, sadness, and inhibition. Orange fosters sociability and helps us to assimilate new things, and to unclog emotional energy that can get trapped in the lower abdomen,
When you need a boost in the areas of pleasure and self-gratification, indulge yourself with this color. The frequency of orange emboldens us to take in what we truly need from life and to let go of what no longer serves us.
Are you drawn to a vivid orange? Combined with the drama of red and the cheerfulness of yellow, pure orange is luminous, bright, glowing, and bold. Or maybe you prefer more muted and shaded tones that offer a bright but subtle glow that is restful, earthy, natural, and soothing.
What we do with our physical environment—our personal space—speaks to our heart and helps us to flourish. Buy a piece of orange clothing, or add a splash of orange to your décor with flowers, pillows, a candle, or a throw. Paint a wall apricot. Or take advantage of the healing frequency of orange crystals such as carnelian, sunstone, or moonstone that has a hint of peach or a shade of apricot.
A great big thank you to Joseph’s Marketfor allowing me to take photographs in their produce department.